Monday, June 13, 2011
Movie Review: The Help
I was thrilled last week to get to go see a sneak preview of The Help (along with a half-dozen of my fellow WNBA members!) I read it last year for book club and I loved it, here's my review.
Naturally, a movie (especially of a longer book like this one) will need to compress some of the storyline and for the most part I didn't really notice where it was abridged. One thing I was disappointed by (although without making the movie both much longer and more tedious I'm not quite sure how they would have included this) is how Hilly was portrayed. I found in the book that her character was made very complex (as were my feelings towards her) as she was shown very much to be an excellent mother. None of her peers were - the maids were the ones parenting their children, and many of then, like Elizabeth, were such dreadful parents that the maids needed to counteract their parenting. Hilly otherwise is just a monster, but that one good trait made her much more sympathetic, and made it hard for me to just hate her, which enriched the experience so much. That, sadly, is lacking.
Otherwise, I found it excellent. As a Southerner, I am always on the lookout for overblown and obviously put-on accents, but all these were good. The acting was top-notch, as was the casting. I am very impressed with Emma Stone, First Easy A, and now The Help? For such a young actress, she does an excellent job picking very smart but accessible (and literary!) films. I was skeptical of Bryce Howard playing Celia when I first heard about the casting last year, but she was terrific.
It had been 18 months since I read the book, so large parts of it were fuzzy in my head. It was nice to be both surprised at what was coming next, but at the same time to recognize scenes that I had forgotten, but which came roaring back with just a moment of clarity. One anachronism that Kristen from BookNAround picked up on was in the scene where Skeeter changes the article in the Junior League newsletter to something funny and embarrassing (I won't spoil it), using Wite-Out. According to Kristen:
"Wite-Out was invented in 1966. Liquid Paper was invented in 1951 but sold out of the Betty Nesmith's home kitchen in Dallas for 17 years. So the first is too young to have been in existence for The Help (1963) and the latter is so unlikely as to be unbelievable."
I agree but it didn't hurt the movie at all for me. But after the movie we did discuss if correcting typewriter tape or those funny eraser pencils or something else would have been more appropriate for the era.
This movie would be perfect for a book club outing. I teared up at one point (I am not much of a movie crier), I laughed several times, and I might actually go see it again when it's released.
The trailer is here, and it opens August 12.